Surveyor killed by train had warning, police say

August 06, 2004|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Mercersburg, Pa., surveyor killed Wednesday afternoon when he was struck by a train in Chambersburg apparently had ample warning of its approach, borough police said.

"They saw him and began giving audible signals well, well before contact," Detective Sgt. Dianne Kelso said Thursday of the crew of the Norfolk Southern train. That was confirmed by people at Knouse Foods Cooperative Inc. on Grant Street who heard the train sound its warning horn, she said.

Thomas E. Shelly, 45, of 9495 Mercersburg Road, was pronounced dead at the scene of the 1:55 p.m. accident, according to Franklin County Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner. He died of multiple blunt force trauma, Conner said.


"They observed him walking and appearing to leave the track area ... He was on the edge of the track when he was hit," she said.

The section of the high line railroad tracks on which Shelly was hit has two sets of tracks, Kelso said. She could not estimate the distance at which the train and Shelly would have been within sight of each other, but said "it would appear to have adequate distance. There was no obstruction of view."

"There was no indication the train was going outside an acceptable speed," Kelso said. Information on the speed of the train had not been supplied to police by the railroad as of Thursday afternoon, she said.

Trains are permitted to travel up to 50 mph on that track, said Rudy Husband, the director of public relations for Norfolk Southern. Shelly was using surveying equipment on the tracks, but Husband said he did not have permission to be there and was trespassing.

At this point in the investigation, Kelso said police had no answers as to why Shelly did not get safely out of the path of the Norfolk Southern train of two locomotives and nine cars that was headed toward Hagerstown.

"We're continuing the investigation in an effort to determine the circumstances surrounding this incident," Kelso said.

Shelly was a partner in Shelly & Witter Inc., a surveying company that was doing work for TB Wood's, a manufacturer located near the railroad line, Conner said.

A woman who answered the telephone at the Greencastle, Pa., office of Shelly & Witter Thursday said they were not taking questions from the media.

TB Wood's had retained Shelly & Witter to do a land survey for tax assessment purposes, according to a TB Wood's executive who spoke on the condition that his name not be used. He said Thursday the company was unaware Shelly had gone onto the railroad right of way while surveying the property lines.

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